Dec 11, 2020

Christmas Traditions

December 11, 2020

Last week LCGS had its annual Holiday party. Like so many other things in 2020, this year’s get-together was unusual since it was held via Zoom rather than the usual dinner at a local restaurant. I always enjoy the holiday party since it’s the one time a year that members meet for a strictly social event, although it always includes at least a little genealogy-related conversation.


At first when we decided that we’d have Carol Cooke Darrow give a presentation on holiday traditions via Zoom, I have to admit I wasn’t particularly enthusiastic. It sounded like it would be just another general meeting, rather than the usual chance to visit. I was pleasantly surprised by Carol’s talk which was informative, but not too serious, and it reminded me of many of my own family’s holiday traditions. Before and after the presentation, members had a chance to visit and tell stories about their own traditions. Carol did a nice job of guiding us to talk about what we might be doing that will be different this year because of the restrictions imposed by Covid-19. These included things such as celebrating outdoors with family members to lessen the risks of virus transmission and sharing family time via Zoom and other platforms.


I came away from last week’s meeting feeling excited to dig out some of the old traditions that my family has always celebrated, such as baking seven different kinds of cookies for Christmas. My Norwegian grandmother started baking her batches of cookies before Thanksgiving and stored the cookies in large stoneware crocks in an unheated bedroom until Christmas. She made the typical Scandinavian cookies such as sandkakers and krumkakes and spritzes, but she also made some American-style cookies such as chocolate chips and date-filled cookies. The sandkakers and spritzes that Grandma made were basically almond-flavored butter cookies with the sandkakers being pressed into mini-pie tins and the spritzes made into various shapes with a press. The krumkakes are a light sugar cookie type that is baked on an iron, somewhat like a round waffle iron, although the cookies are much thinner than waffles. While the cookies are still warm, they’re wrapped around a wooden shape to form a cone. Most years my son and I make the almond-flavored cookies since they’re my favorites (I especially love the raw dough – I know about raw eggs, but just for Christmas, I’m willing to take a chance), but I haven’t made krumkakes for years, although I do have an iron in the farthest back corner of my pantry.


After talking about the Scandinavian tradition of having seven types of cookies available to serve with coffee when friends, neighbors and family dropped by during the holidays, I’m inspired to dig out my krumkake iron and make a batch, in spite of the fact that rolling the hot cookies around the form is a good way to end up with singed fingertips!


I don’t think I’ll be making seven kinds of cookies, especially considering that no one will be dropping by for year end coffee and cookies this year. However, making three or four batches of cookies seems like a nice way to honor my family’s traditions during this very unusual Christmas season. After all, unlike my grandmother, I have a freezer where I can put the excess cookies, and I’m sure they’ll taste even better in the dark days of January and February.


Whatever your family’s Christmas traditions are, these long, stay-at-home days seem like a good time to dust off a few of them and maybe even try a couple of new ones. If nothing else, it’s a good time to at least write about them and share them with far flung family members.


Carol Stetser

Researcher/Director at Large